This book deals with child soldiers’ involvement in crimes under international law. Child soldiers are often victims of grave human rights abuses, and yet, in some cases, they also participate actively in inflicting violence upon others. Nonetheless, the international discourse on child soldiers often tends to ignore the latter dimension of children’s involvement in armed conflict and instead focuses exclusively on their role as victims.
While it might seem as though the discourse is therefore beneficial for child soldiers as it protects them from blame and responsibility, it is important to realize that the so-called passive victim narrative entails various adverse consequences, which can hinder the successful reintegration of child soldiers into their families, communities and societies. This book aims to address this dilemma. First, the available options for dealing with child soldiers’ participation in crimes under international law, such as transitional justice and criminal justice, and their shortcomings are analyzed in depth. Subsequently a new approach is developed towards achieving accountability in a child-adequate way, which is called restorative transitional justice.
This book is in the first place aimed at researchers with an interest in child soldiers, children and armed conflict, as well as international criminal law, transitional justice, juvenile justice, restorative justice, children’s rights, and international human rights law. Secondly, professionals working on issues of transitional justice, juvenile justice, international criminal law, children’s rights, and the reintegration of child soldiers will also find the subject matter of great relevance to their practice.
Dr. Leonie Steinl, LL.M. (Columbia) is a Researcher and Lecturer at the Faculty of Law of the Humboldt-Universität in Berlin.
- Addresses child soldiers’ participation in crimes under international law
- Provides a comprehensive overview and analysis of how different fora of transitional justice have dealt with child soldiers and their roles as perpetrators
- Develops a new approach to achieving accountability for child soldiers’ participation in crimes under international law
An excerpt from a book review:
Steinl normatively interrogates how questions around child soldiers should intersect with transitional justice initiatives. Steinl picks up the toughest questions: how to approach the child who, subject to a variety of conditions, murders, maims or mangles others? What does justice mean for these others, which could well include children; and what does it mean for the child who commits the hurt, who too is a victim?
Steinl advances a convincing case that child soldiers ought to be treated with dignity, which means they should also, depending on the circumstances, be considered as actors.
Steinl offers one of the most deeply researched accounts of practices of child soldiers globally as well as a meticulous survey of law and policy.
Steinl makes a powerful case that truth commissions specifically, and transitional justice generally, can advance the best interests of child soldiers. For this to happen, she argues, transitional justice frames must shed their predilection to construct child soldiers as passive victims.
Mark A Drumbl; Jamie Rowen, Searching for Truth in the Transitional Justice Movement; Child Soldiers as Agents of War and Peace: A Restorative Transitional Justice Approach to Accountability for Crimes under International Law, Journal of International Criminal Justice, Volume 16, Issue 1, 1 March 2018, Pages 193–196, https://doi.org/10.1093/jicj/mqy010